Should you disclose caregiving responsibilities to a prospective employer?
Caregiver responsibilities have climbed exponentially since the pandemic hit. Between school and daycare closures, layoffs and furloughs, and pandemic-related illnesses requiring care, millions of people have opted out of the workforce. They are uncomfortable or unable to negotiate a situation allowing them to have paid employment.
Ideally, prospective employees would be direct with hiring managers about what support and time they need (to the extent they know), and companies would be clear about what is workable.
But some people don’t feel comfortable, and some companies can’t — or won’t — make an accommodation. So this can be a tough issue, no matter what side of the desk you’re on.
When my daughters were young, I was the only woman on an executive team that prided itself as #1 — work came first, always. I was careful to cover my tracks, never spoke of needing to leave early. I invested in full-time childcare so I could behave like one of the ‘guys’ (and my spouse is an equal parenting partner).
I hope times have changed, and that both men and women don’t always feel they have to “cover” and hide being a parent or caregiver to their elders or other family members. It depends.
To have an open dialogue, there needs to be trust, coupled with a realistic assessment of both employee and organizational needs. Employers need to convey reasonableness with regard to work/life balance, and applicants need to do their research to know whether their caregiving needs are feasible within the expectations of the role.
Harvard Business Review recently asked me to provide guidance for job-seeking readers, and I provide three strategies for job-seekers here.